Second time in three years MHSL student has claimed prestigious IP prize
A Mitchell Hamline student has won a highly competitive and prestigious national entertainment law competition and will be honored as part of this year’s GRAMMY Awards celebration. Caitlin Michelle Kowalke also gets a free ticket to the GRAMMY Awards show and related events in Los Angeles.
It is the second time in three years a Mitchell Hamline student has been a winner in the GRAMMY Foundation contest. Mihajlo Babovic, a student at William Mitchell College of Law, one of Mitchell Hamline’s predecessor schools, was one of five finalists in 2014.
Kowalke will receive a $5,000 scholarship this Friday at the 18th annual Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon and Scholarship Presentation, presented by the GRAMMY Foundation and held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica.
She is the winner of the ELI Writing Competition, in which law students are asked to write a 3,000-word essay on a compelling legal issue facing the music industry. She will give a presentation at the luncheon about her paper, which is titled “Survey Says: ‘Blurred Lines’ Call for Reliable Aid in the Adjudication of Composition Infringement Actions.” Established in 1998 to recognize and further the connection between the legal profession and the recording community, the ELI program seeks to address legal issues confronting the music industry.
“The GRAMMY Foundation Award is one of the most sought-after writing prizes in American law schools,” said Professor Ken Port. “This award means that Caitlin’s paper was the best paper on copyright in the nation submitted this year. The fact that a Mitchell Hamline student has won this award two of the last three years speaks volumes about the quality of our students and the education they are getting here.”
Presenting Kowalke her award on Friday will be Ken Abdo ’82, ELI Program Chair and a music industry attorney with Lommen Abdo in Minneapolis.
In addition to a cash prize, Kowalke and each of four runners-up receive airfare, hotel accommodations, and a ticket to the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards, which will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 15, as well as invitations to other GRAMMY Week activities.
Kowalke is a third-year student who is scheduled to graduate in May. A native of Cresco, Iowa, she has been on the staff of Cybaris, the law review at Mitchell Hamline focused on Intellectual Property issues, and this year serves on the editorial board. She is currently clerking at an IP firm in St. Paul and interning at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. She plans a career in Intellectual Property law.
She said she wrote the essay during the holiday break after first semester and was surprised and humbled when she found out in late January that it had taken the top prize. “It took a while for it to sink in,” she said. “It’s not something you think is going to happen.” In her paper, she argues for the use of survey data from professionals to help juries decide what constitutes copyright infringement.
Everybody who works in entertainment law follows the GRAMMY Foundation and its activities, Kowalke said, and “it’s really exciting to go out there and be a part of all that.”